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French National Assembly approves EU fiscal pact

PARIS -- France's National Assembly Tuesday approved a EU fiscal pact that is key to efforts to overcome the eurozone debt crisis but that critics argue is austerity forced by Brussels.

A total of 477 lawmakers voted for the pact, 70 against and 21 abstained. Nine members did not take part in the vote on the treaty, which requires countries with high debt to keep their structural deficits below 0.5 percent of gross domestic product.

Socialist President Francois Hollande's cabinet had already backed the pact, which many on the French left had said they would oppose.

But in a major boost for Hollande's credentials both at home and abroad, the vote sailed through with a majority of the left voting in favor, and prompting the French leader to hail a “united” stand.

“The left gathered together to vote for the treaty, it did not need the support of the right,” Hollande said.

The pact must still be approved by the upper house Senate.

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